Lack of charging points and subsidies dampens consumer demand for EVs

The majority of UK drivers want to transition to electric vehicles (EVs) but are held back by a lack of incentives and concerns over infrastructure, according to new research.

The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), an industry body, find that EVs will command nearly 18 per cent of the new car market by the end of the year.

Fleets of corporate vehicles are leading the electric transition, but the end of incentives for private consumers is dampening mass market demand, the body said.

Last year, the Department for Transport announced the closure of the grant scheme for electric cars, claiming that a “mature market” has already been created.

The SMMT criticised the move at the time, saying it sent the “wrong message” to consumers. It is now calling for support for private buyers to be reinstated in line with incentives provided to businesses.

The removal of the Plug-in Car Grant left Britain as the only major European market with no consumer EV incentives, yet it has the most ambitious timeline for the EV transition. Following its removal, sales to private buyers fell from more than one in three new cars to fewer than one in four.

The SMMT also said that some consumers are repelled from buying an EV over concerns that there are not enough charging points, which makes longer-distance trips more difficult.

There are currently fewer than 43,000 public charge points in the whole of the UK. A study from 2021 found that the installation of chargers needs to increase by five times the current rate if the plan to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 is to be achieved.

The body called for mandated targets for the rollout of charging points to help consumers overcome anxieties over insufficient infrastructure.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “We are entering a new phase in the UK’s EV transition, in which Britain can, and should, be a leader. We have the industry, the love of new technology and the scale to succeed.

“The government has recently demonstrated its commitment to EV manufacturing in the UK and that commitment must be extended to the consumer. With a new – and still to be finalised – Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate due to revolutionise the market in just over 100 days, supply must be matched by demand.

“A comprehensive package of measures would encourage households across the UK to go electric now, boosting an industry slowly recovering from the pandemic and delivering benefits for the Exchequer, society and the global environment.”

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